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Family structure is more important than money, scholar says

Society’s reliance on strong families is a phenomenon long understood and promoted by the Church, as well as verified time and time again by social science.

Mary Eberstadt, one of the nation’s leading cultural critics and religion scholars, discussed this topic Dec. 5 in Denver during her lecture: “Save the Family, Save the World: ‘Lumen Gentium’ and What We Now Know.” This latest installment of the Archbishop’s Lecture Series was delivered in Bonfils Hall on the campus of the John Paul II Center in south Denver.

“The benefits to society and to individuals of the intact family are not wild suppositions pulled from one or two controversial studies,” she said. “They are instead verifiable evidence of what the family delivers to society—evidence built out of a library of secular social science … in the course of many decades.”

In addition to citing studies and statistics during her talk, Ebestadt drew on the wisdom and prescience of the 1964 apostolic constitution “Lumen Gentium,” a product of the Second Vatican Council that calls on the laity, particularly “married couples and Christian parents” to evangelize, and she shared examples from her latest book: “How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization.”

One of the most interesting realties of this body of work, she said, shows something many people don’t know: family structure is more important than money.

“We’re accustomed to thinking of the chief dividing line in society being between rich and poor,” she said. “But it’s the difference in family structure, not the difference in family income, that best explains why children from intact homes are the statistical winners.”

More on Eberstadt’s talk will appear in the Dec. 11 print edition of the Denver Catholic Register. The next installment of the Archbishop’s Lecture Series will feature author and theologian Brant Pitre March 18 speaking on “‘Dei Verbum’ 50 Years Later: The Importance of Scripture in Your Life and the Thought of Pope Francis.”


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